China's Xi to take part in Apec leaders' meeting via video link

BEIJING/WELLINGTON • China's President Xi Jinping will participate in a meeting of the leaders of the Asia-Pacific trade group Apec via video link tomorrow, the Foreign Ministry said.

The summit of the leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) grouping, hosted this year by New Zealand, will focus on the region's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, emphasising supply chain support and decarbonising economies.

President Xi will also make a keynote address to a meeting today for Apec business leaders, the ministry said in a website statement yesterday. Mr Xi is attending the meeting at the invitation of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying.

The 21-economy grouping includes the United States, China, Russia and several South-east Asian nations including Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

At a virtual summit yesterday, trade and foreign ministers from the grouping agreed to push for a freeze on fossil fuel subsidies.

Ms Ardern hailed the move on fossil fuel subsidies, saying it had the potential to divert billions of dollars from a heavily polluting sector into green technology.

But she added that more bold action on climate change was needed. As Apec leaders face pressure for meaningful action on climate change amid COP26 talks in Glasgow, Ms Ardern said it did not go far enough.

"Do we need to be more ambitious than this? Absolutely," she said. "We would, of course, like to see a world where there are no fossil fuel subsidies in our economies - that's long been a position of New Zealand, which we will continue to advocate."

She added: "If the world is not ready to take bold action on climate change, then the world must be ready for the disastrous results of climate change."

The issue was highlighted at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, where the heads of 91 major global companies called for the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies.

On the challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O'Connor said there was overarching agreement on the need to avoid erecting trade barriers.

"It is free, fair and open trade that will help economies move forward out of this pandemic... We need openness to drive global growth; indeed it is trade that presents the solution to our challenges," he said.

"Some 81 million jobs have been lost across the region due to Covid-19 and the impact on supply chains has been significant, but Apec members have rejected protectionism during this crisis," he said.

Apec's member economies collectively account for almost 40 per cent of the world's population and around 60 per cent of the global economy.

The summit was originally due to be held in Auckland but is being held online for a second time due to Covid-19 after Malaysia hosted it virtually last year.

When Apec state leaders meet again this week, topics will include how to reopen borders without spreading the virus, ensuring an equitable pandemic recovery and moving towards a carbon-free economy.

The US will also be keen to use the event to reaffirm its commitment to trade in the Indo-Pacific after years of protectionist policies under former president Donald Trump. Washington has offered to host Apec in 2023 after Thailand takes its turn next year, although the US bid is yet to be confirmed.

REUTERS, XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2021, with the headline China's Xi to take part in Apec leaders' meeting via video link. Subscribe